Belfast court quashes Massereene barracks conviction

A man found guilty of murdering two British soldiers in the North has had his convictions quashed.

Belfast court quashes Massereene barracks conviction

A man found guilty of murdering two British soldiers in the North has had his convictions quashed.

Brian Shivers was sentenced to 25 years for the 2009 murders of English sappers Mark Quinsey, 23, and Patrick Azimkar, 21, outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim.

Today the Court of Appeal in Belfast ruled the verdicts in the non-jury trial unsafe.

His appeal against additional convictions on six counts of attempted murder and one of possession of two firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life was also allowed.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) must now consider whether to apply for a retrial for the 47-year-old from Magherafelt, who is terminally ill with cystic fibrosis.

He will remain in custody pending the PPS’s decision.

Last January, judge Mr Justice Anthony Hart, who has now retired, found that Shivers set light to the getaway car used in the attack.

Mr Justice Hart said he was satisfied that DNA on burnt matches found at the scene belonged to the defendant.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that such an act, after the shootings, was not sufficient to prove that Shivers was guilty of the role of secondary party in the murders.

The summary of judgement stated: “The Chief Justice (Sir Declan Morgan) said that the court did not accept that a person who provides assistance after a murder with full knowledge of what has happened becomes guilty of murder and that there was no authority to support such a proposition.”

At the same trial in Antrim Crown Court, high-profile republican Colin Duffy, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, was acquitted of the murder charges.

Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar were gunned down at the gates of the barracks as they stepped outside to collect a pizza delivery in March 2009.

They were hours from deploying to Afghanistan and were already dressed in desert fatigues.

A British Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of Sappers Patrick Azimkar and Mark Quinsey at this extremely difficult time.”

A Public Prosecution Service spokeswoman said: “The PPS will inform the Court of Appeal of its decision whether or not it’s seeking a retrial.”

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